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    NFL Week 9 Winners and Losers: C.J. Stroud and Josh Dobbs Steal the Show While Eagles, Ravens, Chiefs Remain Elite

    Who looked the best during Week 9 of the NFL season? Comeback wins by C.J. Stroud's Texans and Josh Dobbs' Vikings highlight Sunday's winners and losers.

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    We’re more than halfway through the 2023 NFL season, and contenders are starting to separate themselves from pretenders. On Sunday, we saw three teams stake their claim as the league’s best squad, while other clubs turned back into pumpkins in Week 9.

    Which clubs looked the best on Sunday, and who’s already looking ahead to next week? Here are all the winners and losers from Week 8.

    Winners and Losers From NFL Week 9

    Winner | C.J. Stroud and the Houston Texans

    We’ll get to the triad of teams that solidified themselves as the league’s best shortly. But it’s hard to imagine beginning our Week 9 review with another player than Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud, who already looks like one of the NFL’s top signal-callers through the first nine weeks of his pro career.

    Stroud finished with an absurd 470 passing yards (a new rookie record) and five touchdowns on Sunday while leading the Texans to a comeback win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Ohio State product calmly forged a six-play, 75-yard TD drive in just 40 seconds to give Houston a 39-37 win.

    And we can’t forget a shoutout to Texans running back/emergency placekicker Dare Ogunbowale, who stepped in for injured kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn. Ogunbowale hit a 29-yard field goal and handled kickoffs for the entire second half. Versatility is the best ability!

    Winner | Josh Dobbs and the Minnesota Vikings

    Josh Dobbs is getting pretty good at this play-on-short-notice thing.

    Dobbs, who the Minnesota Vikings acquired from the Arizona Cardinals just five days ago, had to take over as the Vikings’ QB after fifth-round rookie Jaren Hall — starting in place of an injured Kirk Cousins — suffered a concussion early in the first quarter.

    Of course, this wasn’t Dobbs’ first time jumping straight into the fire. In 2022, he started for the Tennessee Titans eight days after joining the team. This year, Dobbs was the Cardinals’ Week 1 starter one month after Arizona acquired him from the Cleveland Browns.

    MORE: NFL Playoff Picture Week 9

    On Sunday, Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell was “essentially translating calls and mapping out plays mid-huddle,” given that Dobbs was so unfamiliar with the club’s offense, per The Athletic’s Alec Lewis. But Dobbs, a literal rocket scientist, seemed to handle everything with ease.

    Down 28-24 to the Atlanta Falcons with 2:04 remaining, Dobbd led an 11-play, 75-yard drive to give Minnesota the lead with just 22 seconds left on the clock. He finished Week 9 20 of 30 for 158 yards and two touchdowns, adding 66 more yards and another score on the ground.

    The Vikings are still very much in the NFC playoff picture — the New York Times’ projection model gives them a 63% chance of making the dance. Dobbs won’t lose hold of Minnesota’s starting job anytime soon after Sunday’s performance.

    Winner | Eagles, Ravens, Chiefs Remain Elite

    We’ve waited long enough — let’s talk about the three teams with argument as the NFL’s best club.

    The Philadelphia Eagles are the only franchise with eight victories this year. They can win in so many different ways that opposing defenses can barely gameplan against them, and they’ve beaten impressive teams like the Miami Dolphins and, today, the Dallas Cowboys.

    The Baltimore Ravens might have snuck under the radar, but that ends now. Over the past three weeks, the Ravens beat the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks — neither exactly a slouch — by a combined score of 75-9. Baltimore DC Mike Macdonald will be a head coach in 2024.

    And then there’s old faithful: Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Mahomes battled the flu in last week’s sleepy loss to the Denver Broncos, but he was sharp in a 21-14 win over the Dolphins in Germany. KC is 7-2 — did we really expect anything less?

    Loser | Carolina Panthers

    We don’t even need to mention the Carolina Panthers’ 27-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. We won’t talk about Bryce Young’s three-interception game, his third multi-interception contest this season. We’ll avoid mentioning that head coach Frank Reich and owner David Tepper may have differed on which QB to draft with the No. 1 overall pick.

    How do you think the decision-makers in the Panthers building felt watching Stroud — the quarterback they could have drafted — put up a historic performance in Week 9?

    Winner | New Orleans Saints

    Somebody has to win the NFC South, and it’s hard to feel good about any team other than the New Orleans Saints, the only club in the division to manage a win on Sunday.

    MORE: Week 10 NFL Power Rankings

    But Dennis Allen’s squad is a winner by default only. They were outgained by the Chicago Bears and only beat a Tyson Bagent-led team by seven points. But the Saints are in first place for now and remain the favorites to end up atop the NFC South by season’s end.

    Winner | Antonio Pierce and the Las Vegas Raiders

    What a whirlwind of a week it must have been for Antonio Pierce, who was promoted to Raiders interim head coach just in time to face — and defeat — his former team in the New York Giants.

    Pierce and fourth-round rookie QB Aidan O’Connell shared their first NFL win after Las Vegas took down New York, 30-6. O’Connell played mistake-free football, Pierce committed to Josh Jacobs and a bully-ball mentality, and the Raiders’ defense turned the Giants over three times.

    Pierce still has a long way to go to convince Mark Davis to remove the interim tag. Remember, Davis didn’t hire Rich Bisaccia as HC even after he took the Raiders to the playoffs in 2021. But Pierce’s head-coaching career couldn’t have started any better.

    Loser | New York Giants

    On the other side of the Raiders’ win was the Giants, whose season has gone completely off the rails. Daniel Jones, playing for the first time since going down with a neck injury in Week 5, attempted just nine passes before suffering what is believed to be a “significant knee injury,” which could be an ACL tear, per NFL Network.

    Big Blue is now 2-6 and going nowhere fast. With Tyrod Taylor already on injured reserve, undrafted rookie free agent Tommy DeVito is now New York’s starting QB for the foreseeable future. It’s only midseason, but a team that made it to the Divisional Round a year ago can safely turn the page to 2024.

    Loser | Arizona Cardinals

    Clayton Tune may have completed his one and only NFL start. It’s hardly Tune’s fault that the Cardinals lost 27-0 to the Browns, and we’re not blaming the fifth-round rookie for netting just 17 passing yards and totaling only 58 yards on Sunday.

    But Arizona will activate Kyler Murray from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list before Week 10, sending Tune back to the bench. For his sake, we hope he gets another chance to improve his pro stat line.

    From the current NFL standings to team depth charts to coverage of every game in the 18-week NFL schedule, we have all the news from around the league to keep you up to speed!

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